Rob Casey is the owner of Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle and is the author of two paddling guides.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Preparing your SUP Paddle for Night Trips

Here in the Pacific Northwest summer is waning and fall is around the corner.  Days are getting shorter and very soon it'll be dark at 5pm.  Many of us don't stop paddling just because its colder, we just wear a wetsuit.  Shorter days means doing a few night paddles, or in my case as a SUP guide, I offer a bioluminescence night tours through early October.

Night paddling is fun and can be quite an experience but is even more satisfying when your gear is ready for it.  A technique I learned a few years ago is to wrap white electrical tape around my paddle shaft.  If I drop my paddle in the water, it'll be easier to retrieve.  The white tape also helps me see my black carbon paddle propped up against a fence or tree before I drive home, (been there done that).

I wrap the tape in areas where I won't be holding the paddle, or sliding my hand up the shaft when switching hands.

Here's a sample of a recently taped paddle.  Note my company sticker on the blade too.  The sticker helps people contact me when I leave my paddles at the beach (been there..), and it's good for marketing - I tell students the powerface is the same side of the sticker.

White electrical tape around my ProBolt Accent Paddle

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Report Dead, Injured or Stranding Marine Wildlife

If you're on the water, you're most likely will come across dead, injured or stranded marine wildlife.  It's disturbing to see, but you can do something about it.

NOAA has a nationwide (in USA) network of numbers you can call to report any sightings, HERE

Here's a few tips to help the authorities when you make the call:

- List exact location you found the animal.  If tide is going out, mention where you think the animal may drift to.

- Look for any signs of injury which may of lead to death or injury.  Don't touch, pickup or take-in with you. Keep a distance, possibly take pics if available.

Here's a harbor seal we spotted on the Strait of Juan de Fuca last weekend.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

SUP Flip Rescue Revisted

The flip rescue is the best way to get a paddler or other water person in distress on a board to keep them warmer, and out of danger.  It's a simple manuever if practiced often to get the kinks out.  Here's a few clips from an instructor certification class I held last week. Video is the best demonstration which is coming soon.  Practice to be able to do it in a minute or less.

- Approach other board from opposite direction (boards nose to tail)
- Keep leashes untangled.
- To get a big person out, step to the back of their board with your heels over the rail to get as much leverage as possible.  Standing on the board is essential with someone bigger than you.
- Grab victims PFD straps, wetsuit under warms, or have then cross their arms and hold their hands for falling back.  Grab onto each to help stand up.
- Unlike the NRS video on YouTube, don't throw you paddle away, you may need it.
- Tow the person to shore, or push with your board (board to board) if a short distance.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Where do you put your keys?

When paddling there's always the issue of where to put your keys.  Some may bring the key with them, storing it in a wetsuit pocket or placing it a waterproof bag tucked in their wetsuit or around their neck.

Over the years, I tried different methods to store my keys on land - some successful, a few not so.  The stick it in the bush idea was a fail. I once came back after dark and took a bit find the right bush. Some place the key in the gas cap, others use those magnetic boxes to be stored under the car somewhere

For those seeking land based safe storage locations, here's a few smarter options:

Masterlock Key Safe
This is a large combination lock which can store up to 5 household keys. Paddlers on Standupzone suggested locking the save to their car grill and to their tow hitch.

Hitch Safe
An innovative idea, the combination lock box slides into your tow hitch.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Paddle Your SUP Out Over Surf Waves

Trying to figure out how to paddle a SUP out over surf waves?  

Here's a few tips..

- Aim directly at the incoming waves.

- Gain speed in forward or surf stance using short strokes similar to a race start.

- As the wave approaches - if in forward stance - put one foot back to raise the nose out of the water a bit.  Make sure both feet are on each side of the center line.  Both on the center line will be unstable.

- When the wave hits your nose, squat down - but keep paddling.

- When the wave crests or breaks under you board - keep paddling.  Here, many stop paddling mistaken, thinking they're over the wave.  On big powerful waves, if you stop paddling here - they'll kick you backwards, and you'll have to start over.  Keep the speed, don't stop paddling til you're 100% over the wave.

- One tip here is to push a rail down on one side of the board to angle board over the wave crest. This allows the board to cut through the wave and releases wave energy on the upside of the board, especially if you have a round nose board.  Pointed nosed boards slice through waves easier.

- If there's more waves coming - keep paddling for the next one.

                                           Watch my video of paddling over several waves.

Safety Tips:

- Don't paddle out directly behind another surfer.  If they get kicked backwards, they'll crash into you.

- Don't paddle out where others are surfing in.  Use the sides of the surf area to paddle out.

- Always use a leash.  If you fall or get kicked back, your board will take off and possibly collide with others behind you (loose ski effect).

- If you're a beginner in the surf, find your own wave away from experienced surfers. Unless you can turn with pinpoint precision out or down a face, keep your distance.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Put a Single Fin in Your SUP

How to put a Single Fin in a SUP.  

-Flathead or Philips screwdriver (depends on your screw type)
-Stick or additional screwdriver to help fish out the metal plate if you drop it in the slot.

-Unscrew metal plate from fin.
-Slide down angled slot into fin box. Must lie flat once in. Fish out if it drops in incorrectly.
-Place the little nub sticking out of the fin in the wide hole of the fin box slot.  Make sure fin is sloping backwards towards tail of board.
-Slide fin to back of board in fin box slot.
-Place fin flat down in slot.
-Using screwdriver, slide flat plate in line with screw hole in fin.
-Attach fin screw through fin hole to connect with the metal plate.
-Make hand tight. Don't over tighten it.
-Once secure - Do a shake test of fin to assure it's secure.

-Fins usually don't float.
-Buy extra fin screws and plates as they're easy to lose.
-Have a headlamp available if you're doing this at dusk.
-Use a quick release fin system to avoid this procedure. (QFR, Larry Allison, ImagineSurf)

For more info on fins and fin installation check out my book:
Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers by Mountaineers Books.

Contact me or any questions or additional tips:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Put your ID on your Gear

Over the years I've managed to leave a paddle at various locations. In one case I left the paddle on the Washington coast 5 hours from my home in Seattle.  A few days ago, I once again left a paddle at a beach where I was teaching near my house.

In all of the above situations the paddles were returned to me because I had my company sticker or other type of personal ID on the paddle.  The Coast Guard suggests having your ID on your boards as well in case if drifts off, or worse case you're lost and they know where to return the gear to.

For instructors - having my sticker on the blade reminds my students which side is the power face.

For stuff like leashes, I add a colored piece of electrical tape to one section so I can tell them from my students if in pile.

I use DieCutStickers in Seattle.

Note my company sticker on my paddles.